Ontario officials have released more guidance on the implementation of the province’s proof-of-vaccination system, which comes into effect on Sept. 22.
The vaccine certificate system will cover “higher-risk” indoor spaces where masks can’t be worn at all times, officials say. The province has amended its list to apply to the following settings:
Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, delivery and takeout).
Nightclubs, including outdoor areas.
Meeting and event spaces like banquet halls and convention centres.
Sports and fitness facilities and gyms, with the exception of youth recreational sports.
Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments.
Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas.
Strip clubs, bath houses and sex clubs.
Indoor areas of waterparks.
Areas of commercial TV, where studio audiences will be treated as patrons who have to be fully vaccinated.
Businesses and organizations that fall under the list above will be required to cross-reference vaccination receipts with identification (including options like a driver’s licence, birth certificate or passport), and make sure the receipt shows any patron has been fully vaccinated for 14 days.
The government says provincial offences officers will be visiting businesses and organizations starting this week to raise awareness and understanding of the new requirements.
WATCH | New portions of province’s proof-of-vaccine system explained:
Officials also say that if individuals or businesses don’t comply, they could be charged or fined.
Regarding enforcement of the vaccine certificates, Health Minister Christine Elliott said at a press conference Tuesday that the solicitor general has been in contact with police forces across the province, but it’s “up to each police force to ready themselves accordingly.”
Some exemptions exist
But officials say exemptions will be made in certain circumstances, including:
When a patron enters an indoor area solely to use a washroom, pay for an order or access an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route.
When a patron enters an indoor area to place or pick up an order (including placing a bet or picking up winnings at a horse racing track), to purchase admission, to make a retail purchase, and for the “necessary purposes of health and safety.”
Children under 12 years old.
Patrons under 18 years old who are entering the indoor premises of a recreational facility solely for the purpose of actively participating in an organized sport.
Weddings, funerals, rites or ceremonies, when the patron is not attending the associated social gathering (for example, the reception after a wedding ceremony).
Patrons with a written document from a physician or a nurse practitioner stating they are exempt for medical reasons.
When asked Tuesday about allowing unvaccinated patrons at a restaurant to enter an indoor space while paying a bill or going to the washroom, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said that circumstance is still not considered a high-risk contact.
The rules assume unvaccinated patrons will be masked and it’ll be 15 minutes or less spent indoors, he added.
Patrons must have vaccination receipt before Oct. 22
At first, fully vaccinated Ontarians will need their current vaccination receipt with a valid photo identification to enter places covered under the new system.
Those with a green photo OHIP card print or download their receipts from the provincial government website. Those with a red and white health card, meanwhile, can call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900.
People who received their first or second dose out of province are being asked to contact their local public health unit to receive proper documentation.
The province says guidance for businesses will be updated before Oct. 22, when Ontario will shift to certificates that include QR codes containing much of the same information included on current vaccination receipts. Official medical exemptions for the vaccine will also be embedded in the QR code, Associate Minister of Digital Government Kaleed Rasheed said.
“If someone doesn’t want to use the QR code, then the ministry of health will look into issuing an exemption certificate, he said.
People can continue to use the print version after Oct. 22 if they so choose, he added. Businesses will be able to download a free app to scan and verify QR codes after that date.
“It will make it easier, more secure, and convenient to show you have been vaccinated when you need to,” he said.
“Your information will never be stored on our app, it will only show the minimum of information needed to confirm an individual has been fully vaccinated.”
Bylaw enforcement officers will be monitoring to make sure businesses conform to requirements, Elliott said.
Anyone at a business who is concerned about feeling threatened over entry should call 911, she added.
“We want to make sure everyone conforms to these rules, but if anyone feels threatened we have the facilities available for people to seek help,” Elliott said.
“I don’t anticipate demand will be huge, we’re asking people to be reasonable, we’ve let people know what the requirements are,” she said.
Rocco Rossi, the president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said the business community has some unanswered questions regarding workplace guidance and protection of businesses.
“While we welcome further guidance provided by the province on its proof-of-vaccination framework, there are still outstanding concerns left unaddressed around workplace guidance and business protection,” Rossi said in a statement.
The chamber is specifically asking for clarity around immunization of employees, protection for businesses from potential lawsuits and other legal consequences, and if small businesses will receive supports to hire additional staff to implement the new framework.
Third doses for certain groups
Meanwhile, the province says it’s moving forward with offering third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to certain groups, following recommendations made by Canada’s national advisory body last week.
To date, the province says it has administered more than 30,000 third doses.
Groups that will be offered a third vaccine include people undergoing active treatment for solid tumours and those who are in receipt of a solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy.
A full list can be found on the government’s website.
Ontario also reported 577 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and seven more deaths.
Of the new cases, 452 are among individuals who have either not been fully vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.
Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health’s daily provincial update:
Tests completed: 21,133.
Provincewide test positivity rate: 2.3 per cent.
Active cases: 6,103.
Patients in ICU with COVID-related illnesses: 192, with 119 needing a ventilator to breathe.
Deaths: seven, pushing the official toll to 9,624.
Vaccinations: 28,657 vaccine doses were administered in Ontario yesterday — nearly double Sunday’s total. More than 84 per cent of Ontarians eligible for a vaccine have now received one dose, while more than 78 per cent have received two doses.
Evolution of Canada as a Modern Payments Leader
With Silicon Valley taking most of the tech headlines from the North American continent, Japan being regularly publicized for its leaps in robotic technologies, and the UAE constantly investing in the latest tech, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many forget about Canada as a leader in the world.
However, just because Canada doesn’t command international headlines doesn’t mean that the country hasn’t proven to be incredibly tech-savvy, especially in the realms of payments and money. As a developed market, Canada has long boasted one of the highest credit card penetration rates in the world, at 83 percent (17 percent higher than the United States).
This is the start of a trend that will likely see Canada become the example of how payments around the world will take place, especially as it’s reported that the country will likely be the first to banish banknotes. Already, over 80 percent of Canadian bank transactions are made digitally, with there being many solutions available to the population. Yet, there’s more to come from the world-leading market in modern payments.
Rapid adoption of innovative cashless payment services
While VISA, MasterCard, and American Express still form the foundations of much of Canada’s payments preferences, eWallet and mobile payment solutions have become incredibly prevalent. Both PayPal and Apple Pay boast a strong customer base across the country, with a 2019 survey indicating that over 20 percent of Canadians had the PayPal app, with over 15 percent installing the Apple Pay app.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, due to the influx of these once-termed ‘alternative’ payment methods, new industries have quickly embraced them to appeal to Canadians. This isn’t anywhere more apparent than with the online casino industry, with the very best accepting PayPal as well as Skrill, Neteller, Trustly, and the two card providers. By offering these safe and popular methods, players are happy to try out thousands of online games.
PayPal looks to be positioning itself as the leader of a cashless Canada, and yet it’ll be expanding its offering even further soon. In September 2021, PayPal paid US$2.7 billion to acquire Japanese online payments firm Paidy, which specializes in buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) and payments without credit cards. This could further enhance its appeal to the Canadian population.
Growing into an ever-more digital space for money
Despite the rate of adoption of the newer or tech-savvy payment methods among customers, many still experience payment friction. It was found that over half of all Canadians have experienced a vendor not accepting their preferred payment method or there being a limit on the amount that can be transferred with any one purchase. This is why PayPal’s entry into BNPL could enhance its scope in Canada.
The BNPL market is tipped to be worth nearly US$4 trillion by the end of this decade, making it a powerhouse option in eCommerce. It will certainly become popular in less-developed markets, where people want more expensive goods than they can afford outright. However, it also has its place in a market like Canada, which will make all tiers of purchase more accessible to all, particularly if the PayPal rollout gains traction.
Another digital area of finance that Canada is seen to be particularly smitten with is that of cryptocurrencies. The government has created a remarkably crypto-friendly regulatory landscape, helping all kinds of coins to know where they stand, appeal to Canadians, and be used across the country. It’s said that around 1.2 million people (3.2 percent of the population) own cryptocurrencies in Canada already.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that Canada is tipped to become the first cashless nation in the world, particularly with the adoption rate of eWallets and the embrace of even more modern solutions.
Alberta province replaces health minister
The premier Alberta province replaced his health minister in a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, as a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases swamped the healthcare system and the government came under fire for mishandling the pandemic.
Hospitals in Canada‘s western oil-producing province are buckling under a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. There are a record number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care, and Alberta has cancelled all non-elective surgeries and discussed transferring patients to other provinces.
United Conservative Party (UCP) leader Kenney and Shandro both face criticism for loosening public health measures much faster than other provinces earlier this year and delaying proof of vaccination requirements as cases started to rise.
“This cabinet shuffle is once again Jason Kenney refusing to take responsibility for his actions and his decisions,” independent lawmaker Drew Barnes, a member of the legislative assembly, told Reuters. “The best thing he could do is resign.”
Barnes was thrown out of the UCP caucus in May for publicly calling for Kenney’s resignation.
Alberta is a conservative stronghold but support for the federal party led by Erin O’Toole slipped in Monday’s election, which some Conservatives blamed on dissatisfaction with Kenney.
On Tuesday the province wrote to the federal government formally requesting more critical care staff and for help transporting patients out of Alberta.
(Reporting by Nia Williams; editing by Barbara Lewis and Sonya Hepinstall)
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